The researchers for StatsSA have been busy crunching the numbers again this month, and they’ve detailed a comprehensive picture of all the visitors to South Africa between May 2018 and May 2019. Overall, it’s good news for tourism in South Africa – foreign arrivals are up by 1.5% within the recorded 12-month period.
Despite reported struggles and increased regional competition, South Africa has remained an attractive destination for international visitors. More than 1.2 million foreign nationals set foot in SA over the past year, and plenty of our fellow countrymen and women have been on the move too: Over 896,000 of us traveled across our borders in the past year.
The South African has broken some of the major statistics down to determine who exactly is coming to visit South Africa, and who are most recurring visitors are.
Tourism in South Africa: Most popular overseas visitors
(Tourists from these ten countries constituted 75.5% of all tourists from overseas countries).
- United States of America: 35 699 (21.5%)
- United Kingdom: 21 834 (13.1%)
- India: 13 238 (8.0%)
- Germany: 11 827 (7.1%)
- France: 11 142 (6.7%)
- Australia: 8 825 (5.3%)
- China: 7 259 (4.4%)
- The Netherlands: 5 782 (3.5%)
- Brazil: 5 149 (3.1%)
- Canada: 4 771 (2.9%)
A comparison of movements in the ten leading overseas countries between May 2018 and May 2019 shows that the number of tourists decreased for four of ten leading countries, France, Germany, The Netherlands and Brazil. But the picture was pretty rosy elsewhere
The UK, for example, experienced the largest increase of visitors to South Africa (up by 6.5%), followed closely by China with an increase of 6.3%. The US also saw their visitor numbers increase by more than 5%.
Tourism in South Africa: Most popular African visitors
(Virtually all tourists from Africa – 97.9% – came from the SADC countries).
- Zimbabwe: 168 046 (29.3%)
- Lesotho: 121 426 (21.2%)
- Mozambique: 106 341 (18.5%)
- Swaziland: 75 161 (13.1%)
- Botswana: 51 668 (9.0%)
- Namibia: 14 682 (2.6%)
- Malawi: 12 853 (2.2%)
- Zambia: 11 527 (2.0%)
- Angola: 5 090 (0.9%)
- Nigeria: 3 597 (0.7%)
Who is visiting South Africa?
In total, the number of tourists increased for five of the ten leading countries (Botswana, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Angola), and decreased for the other five (Zambia, Namibia, Lesotho, Malawi and Mozambique). Botswana showed the largest increase (15.2%), while Zambia showed the largest decrease (15.8%).
So, we know where people are coming from, but do we actually know the type of people that are most likely to come and visit South Africa? StatsSA also provided information on the demographics of travelers visiting South Africa. Their findings conclude the following:
- 56.2% of tourists were male and 43.8% of them were female.
- It’s the millennials and the mid-lifers who are propping up tourism in South Africa: The majority of tourists were aged between 35 and 44 years (29.4%), followed closely by the age group 25 to 34 years (27.9%).
- Of all our foreign visitors, 97% of them came purely for a holiday: 2.4% traveled on business, with 0.5% of them coming here to study. Around one in a thousand travelers come to South Africa for medical treatment.
- Just two people managed to make the journey from St Helena to South Africa – in an entire year!
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